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A Moratorium Is Not A Political Stance

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Years ago I entered a doctoral program still relatively green, so to speak. However, I carried with me a healthy dose of criticism, although it mingled effortlessly with elements of naivete that somehow I had managed to hold on to in spite of my previous years of formal education. Perhaps I never questioned how those two elements worked so well together because together they formulated for me a way to question things without any commitment to answers: I deluded myself for psychological protection purposes, I think.

At any rate, I have a problem with commitment, but not in the typical way that commitment issues tend to be discussed. My husband and I have been married for 25 years, having dated for five years before marrying, so I am capable of commitment.  I believe that my specific lack of commitment issue has much to do with the way that I was raised. As a young child I was allowed to question everything, mostly because my father prized individual thinking, however deluded the notion. Nevertheless, I believed I had the inalienable right to think for myself, even when in the presence of adults. I was not allowed to be disrespectful, but I was allowed to form a counter argument and present it, after which the strong and weak points of it were identified for me to ponder over later. My arguments did not change outcomes necessarily, but they were heard and acknowledged.

Here’s a delusional position: I am annoyed by contradiction, especially when someone is trying to lead me, but I am aware that I am a total contradiction in thought and action. And here is the answer I have come up with (until something better comes along that I can hold in my mind) as a good reason to ascribe to my inconsistent thoughts: at the root everything is a contradiction.

In the diversity program, I came to realize that I was involved in only another configuration of an “us versus them” category. Us, who were believed to be the open minded, caring, and tolerant people versus them, who were believed to be the narrow minded, bigoted, hateful people were regular sources of conversation when discussing diversity; I could not stand it! At one point, I stood up in class, announced that I was leaving and would not be returning, and I told the whole class that it was the hate for less informed people that surfaced in our discussions and was illustrated by our attitudes and political arguments that was the reason behind my decision. I added before gathering my things that I did not apply to the program to involve myself in another version of hate.

My professor was shocked, but she told me she respected my decision. Then she followed me to the door and told me that I needed to talk to someone because average people don’t suffer from such scruples; something was wrong with my head if I was that bothered by the issue. I’m not average, I thought to myself, and you berated me for a having a materialistic bent, according to you, because I drive a new car, while you maintain two separate homes, a bit elitist in its own right. However, out of respect for her as my teacher, none of those thoughts came out of my mouth.

I knew that I was through with her talking out of two sides of her mouth, so to speak, and critiquing every little thing that I did, while she did some other version of the same general thing as if her crap did not stink. Her crap smelled to high heaven from where I was standing, and in my mind I was calling bullshit on the whole thing.

A few days later, after much convincing from others, I bowed before her and requested to return to finish my degree in spite of my feelings. I finished it because I wanted to do a certain kind of work for my community and that degree would give me access to the bigger goal, at least that was what convinced me to return; just suffer through it. However, every time I was confronted with that same type of nonsense while in a classroom, I cringed at the thought of my illicit involvement.

This is my pattern in life. I question in my head, then when I can’t resolve the thing, I question aloud, and then break the tie because I cannot buy, follow, swallow, shove to the side (whatever) the talking out of two sides of the mouth bull crap that I am expected not to notice.

That does not mean that I think all things are equal; I don’t. Oppression does exist, and it should be examined and corrected, in my view, because that is the moral thing to do. To help others live the highest quality of life possible is the moral path, in my view. However, working toward a more equitable reality for people should not require me to become an oppressor or tolerate attempts to oppress. The “us versus them” mindset never works in any meaningful way; it simply creates something further to argue about that leads us to a root that has firmly established itself in contradiction of one sort or another.

To remove myself from the system is impossible; it’s a system after all. The system was in place before I arrived, and it will continue whether I actively participate or not. A moratorium is not a political stance; it’s a cop out, folks. In fact, Paulo Freire posits that to refuse to take a stand is to side with the oppressor.

I’m sorry, but refusing to vote because it is a paternalistic male cultured driven competition does not change the fact that someone will govern and someone will not. In order to make incremental (an trust me I realize that they are incremental) changes toward a more people-oriented society, we have to be willing to contradict ourselves and vote, otherwise, our non-protest is a vote for a more ugly, less people-oriented immediate reality.

I am here now. I am a part of this canvas we call life, and today I must do what I can for those who are under-served or disadvantaged by our current system. And if that means that I must live with participating in a system that I do not like or believe in, I must live with that contradiction on behalf of my brothers and sisters who need more help than I do at the moment.

Someone once said to me something along the lines of “Why should we talk about marginalized groups; we are all suffering?” This is true. Every person suffers as a result of human existence, but some people face system imposed additional suffering that is simply not experienced by everyone. In fact, some of us are the beneficiaries of these socially constructed categories, because an intention to serve some while punishing others was the original goal, and that goal persists today.

I accept that I am a contradiction, and I can allow my brain to hold two competing thoughts at once because I believe that sometimes my willingness two hold these competing thoughts about myself in a effort to help touch the greater good is a sign that I can become fully human one day.

Just a thought.

 

 

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14 thoughts on “A Moratorium Is Not A Political Stance

  1. Well that was more than “a” thought! Because we exist in a world balancing itself through a dualistic principle, I believe everything to be a contradiction within that system. Can we live a personal life within the system without using the system or supporting the system? I think we can to the degree that we choose to live self empowered lives. Take voting. In a fake democracy (a real democracy would be a utopia and could not function in our current state of mental evolution) we are offered the choice of two, sometimes several political “parties” and their representatives to “vote” for. The worst part of the problem here is discharging one’s obligations to be a working member of said fake democracy by the simple expedient of a vote whenever that’s called for.
    I don’t vote that way but I vote all the time. I vote for the best representative I can know about, and that’s me. I am one and all I need to be elected is one vote so I’m always elected. That done, I now proceed to live a responsible public life, doing that which elected representatives of the system will never do: being there for those who need me or my services. I don’t get a wage therefore I am not a burden upon the taxpayers. I am not “beholden” to any public, philosophical, corporate or divine entity for my position therefore I am always free to respond to needs according to my (self empowered) choice.

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    1. Thanks for commenting! I get your point, and I also do not think that our “democratic” system works the way that it should; it’s a corrupt system, to be sure. However, it is the system that will be used, regardless of whether I approve of it or not. My vote is not about the singular me. My vote is cast, at this point, for individuals who I think will likely cause the least amount of damage to the most vulnerable. There is nothing so powerful about me that I (alone) can change the world so that it is less ugly. I must rely on my brothers and sisters to help me move things in a more people-oriented direction; that involves a measure of faith on my part regarding my human family, something that is not always easy for me.
      It is my belief that we are either helped or hindered by others; no one gets anywhere on their own. In that sense, our collective responses matter, at least in the immediate. Individually, I cannot possibly serve everyone, so lots of people will find other assistance. I want to try to limit the pain they experience during that process.

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      1. Speaking of challenges, are you up to one?
        Quote: “It is my belief that we are either helped or hindered by others; no one gets anywhere on their own. In that sense, our collective responses matter, at least in the immediate. Individually, I cannot possibly serve everyone, so lots of people will find other assistance.”
        I’m not here to change how you believe, but I am living proof that not only do we get “somewhere” on our own, being self empowered, detached and forging alone with our carefully laid thoughts is the only way we do get anywhere. That is why you don’t hear much being bandied about re: working as individuals. The system can only recognize collectives so, from the man-woman lover relationship to family, to town, state, country; from parents’ indoctrination to church, school, profession, club, political party, whatever, it’s all part of some collective or collective of collectives. Individuals with their own ideas and minds need not apply or they too will be absorbed.
        I’ve been many things in my life, including activist environmentalist, shit-disturber “socialist” and politician. I’ve preached and taught (within certain paradigms) and cajoled people into joining this or that power group to challenge the status quo. I was successful enough to get death threats: that’s always adrenaline-raising excitement… it means you’re being effective. Then came the crash and realization that nothing whatsoever changes from working through, or with, collectives. No matter how they come about or what they claim, all of them end up supporting and strengthening the status quo. We become the enemy we wanted to destroy.
        I became an individual; turned against all aspects of the system – all a lie, no exception. Then I chose a life purpose that would be dependent only upon me, no one and nothing else. My life and I are one. I engage and disengage by my own choice-never any attachment to make me hesitate or change my mind.
        The system is our enemy, never a friend. It will pretend to be a friend if the times demand it and will kill you when the times also demand it. All that matters to the system is its own survival and holding on to ultimate power over everything else. It will destroy entire species and worlds if it decides it would be to its advantage or contribute to its satisfaction or pleasure. Repugnicans and De-Mock-Rats are cloned from the same vat. Only their makeup and some of the sounds they make are different to guarantee the confusion and to get the Sheeple to line up on one side or the other.
        This is common enough knowledge, I think, but without a belief in one’s self no one knows what to do with system reality. The consensus is, it can’t be changed, so it isn’t. Better the Devil you know and all of that. Compromise: it’s how we disempower ourselves and give our lives freely and cheaply to predatory vampire system who rule and ruin our world, our lives and certainly those of our children.

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      2. I agree with most everything that you wrote. I realize that my thoughts and actions are contradictory, as I mentioned previously. However, refusing to move to some action, in my mind, is to embrace fatalism. Essentially, it feels like throwing my hands up and surrendering. I can tell that you have been an activist, and I know that you understand power differentials and system functions; that is part of what I enjoy so much about your writing. Truth to power is my favorite style, plus you are a bit quirky, and I like that too😊.
        I believe that I am a culmination of all people and things that have impacted my life, and you are counted in that assessment. You make me think and laugh, as well as question myself (sometimes laugh at myself); that’s what I mean about my inability to get anywhere on my own; somehow others have assisted me, even if they are unaware of the help.
        Guess who is seconds from speaking in my town? The building is reportedly packed and people are still standing outside. Trump. It’s been suggested that he has purposefully selected the Whitest and most poorly educated places to visit in these last few days before midterm voting ends.
        Fatalism equals hopeless to me, and I can’t let that reside permanently inside of me; it’s too painful.
        I had planned to write about this, but since we are talking here, I’ll go ahead and divulge a little more. My only faith is in goodness. I am as much hated as liked, and that often has something to do with my willingness to go with my conscience, even if it means letting down a friend who thought I would never take another position. When Oriah Mountain Dreamer says that she wants to know that you can be faithless, and therefore trustworthy; those words resonate with me.
        Here’s the answer: I wish for human solidarity, and other than giving up completely, I don’t know what else to do but attempt to struggle against the corrupt system, even while understanding that ultimately my actions won’t matter.
        The Devil just started takling; it’s on the local channel ☹

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      3. Oh no, not a visit from the high priest of moral turpitude, the White House Sith Lord himself – Jedis, be strong in the Force!
        Quote: “Fatalism equals hopeless to me, and I can’t let that reside permanently inside of me; it’s too painful.
        I had planned to write about this, but since we are talking here, I’ll go ahead and divulge a little more. My only faith is in goodness. I am as much hated as liked, and that often has something to do with my willingness to go with my conscience, even if it means letting down a friend who thought I would never take another position. When Oriah Mountain Dreamer says that she wants to know that you can be faithless, and therefore trustworthy; those words resonate with me.”

        Didn’t know Mountain Dreamer had said that but it makes total sense-if one practices detachment! Some of the terms you use in this quote: hopelessness. The best way to not fall into that pit is to avoid hope entirely! Let me put it this way: three things spoken of as the greatest virtues which I have freed myself from: faith, hope and love. For years I struggled with the love concept, is it “love” or is it “unconditional love” until I clued in that if I needed to add unconditional to my ideal of love, then love was a weak force and I needed to find something better. Then I also realized that ‘faith’ was a trap, that as long as I felt the need to believe IN something, anything, I could never claim to be self empowered. So I had to find something to replace faith with. Then hope fell too because it is the poor cousin of faith. Who hopes for what they can be sure of? Hope means being unsure and where that moves there is fear and doubt. To live in hope means to trust in something or someone greater than one’s self. That is the mark of the mind slave.
        Then I discovered compassion, not as a virtue but as a living force. It completely replaced all virtues. It made moral choices become self evident. It empowered me to “walk between heaven and earth” providing a bridge between joy and sorrow. I felt like a Jedi! After some years I realized I needed to give my life direction, purpose, so I declared myself an avatar of compassion. That is the anchor of my self empowerment now, so no danger of misusing it as some have intimated. Yes self empowerment is a dangerous two-edged sword but when wielded with compassion, it can only go in one direction.
        The self empowered person is utterly faithless, hence just as utterly trustworthy. We do not lie because we cannot. We know the right choice in any given moment without going through mental turmoil about it and when the deed is done… like the conclusion of the Bene Geseritt mantra against fear in Dune… ‘only I remain standing there.’ That’s amazing power and it conserves much energy that can be used for self or world healing. Fatalism is a chimera in my world. There is always a way-through, under, over, besides or by overwhelming. However dark the immediate future it will be turned back to serve rather than take, that is our way and there is nothing, either spirit or physical that can prevent us from fulfilling our will.
        That said in truth, without faith, hope or love! 🙂

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      4. You’ve given me something to consider, for sure. About a year ago I wrote a literature review on the concept of hope in preparation to begin a study, something I’ve yet to start in any meaningful way. The interesting thing about hope is that it is a learned mode of thinking, according to other researchers, that allows us to formulate multiple paths to goal achievement. Those of us with high hope tend to set realistic goals and have resources to allow for multiple pathway pursuits, should the first choice path become interrupted for some reason. According to the research, people with unrealistic goals and low access to resources tend to have low levels of hope moving forward because the original goal is often unmet. You mention that fatalism is a chimera in your world because there is a way to get beyond the issue (I hope my paraphraseing is accurate). Could it be that we actually have some overlapping thoughts, but we simply have different labels for our experiences? I think we may be more alike than different 😊

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      5. A lot of semantics come into play in any philosophical discussion, I think. This is where humility is of foremost importance. We do not (should not) get tied to our imagery but remember that the whole point is to clarify what we mean and arrive at something better, bigger, by joining our apparent differences. For me ALL discussions are essentially a quest for solutions to existing problems and I don’t care how small or gargantuan they appear to be. I interact with many people of many different beliefs or way of life not to demonstrate that my way is better but to get “my way” shaken around, kicked around, torn apart. What doesn’t survive was a burden I didn’t need to carry. I know I am forceful in presenting my ideas. That is an invitation to “the other” to use as much force in countering them if they feel they need challenging. At the back of my mind is this constant voice saying, “now show me something better than I’ve been able to dredge up.” From what I’ve experienced, we are here to learn and to practice what we learn. Both must be constantly happening. That’s sort of a reply…?

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      6. I completely agree with you! I love a good discussion, and learning is always good, in my opinion. I don’t take any of your comments as forceful. In fact, your comments often help me to think more deeply about things, something that I enjoy. I’ve been wrong more times than I can count, and that has only resulted in a better version of me, at least that’s how I see it. I usually describe what happens to me in those moments as the death of a small bit of my ignorance, but if it’s okay, I am going to adopt your burden analogy; I like it better.

        I sense that we will be wonderful dialogue partners, at least that is my hope. :0)

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      7. I wasn’t sure what you meant by “burden analogy” so went back up to re-read my comment. We carry so much baggage in our mind, much of it outdated, distracting and confusing. We are hoarders of thoughts, like those sad people hoarding newspapers from 20 years ago. I’m not intimating we should aim for a tabula rasa, but we need to constantly clean up our thinking office. The one thing we do not, ever, want to do, is hire someone to do the clean up for us…! I have a healthy distrust bordering on hatred for psychiatrists and psychologists…

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      8. Bobby Bowden, long time FSU coach (much beloved by many locals) just came up on stage and actually said that Trump plus God equals the majority. Wum Hum? Wum-hum? 🤔 Right now I feel like Scooby Doo when he’s confused.

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      9. Trump plus God equals the majority? That’s supposed to be an intelligent statement? Is he saying that his God needs Trump to become a majority, and if so, a majority of what, exactly? Is he intimating that if one were to vote in the name of Trump-God that would constitute a majority and an automatic electoral win? Or did he temporarily forget that farts are suppose to be let out from another orifice? There is one other possible explanation: that guy is practicing to be the next president.

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      10. Too funny😂 I live in the Bible belt (in fact, we held the world record for the most churches per capita in Guinness at one point; I’m not sure whether we still hold it or not), and this is Trumpland, which is a contradiction that you cannot school anyone on in these parts with any effectiveness. I don’t ever have the opportunity to preach to the choir, so to speak. The classroom is no different for me either.
        I actually think he was attempting to call on their religious duty to vote Trump. My guess is that they will. I don’t expect anyhing new for my state on Tuesday.

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